Thursday, November 5, 2009

November CHSRA Board Meeting

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Use this as an open thread for anyone interested in discussing the November CHSRA Board Meeting. Click here for the agenda, which includes a board vote on whether to accept the staff recommendation of Ogilvy for the $9 million communications contract, and a presentation from the authority's "French partners" (I assume this is SNCF? Agenda isn't clear on this). Click here for the live webcast (link updated) of the meeting for those of us who can't make it to Sacramento for the occasion.


Brian Stankievich said...

The live stream doesn't seem to be working for me.

Anyone else get it to work?

Eric M said...


Go to the CAHSR website and look on the right hand side. There is a link for the live webcast and it works. I couldn't get the link from Robert to work either.

Anonymous said...

I went to the HSR website and clicked and it still doesn't work

Robert Cruickshank said...

Eric, which link is that? The link on the right-hand side on the CHSRA site is the same one I gave in the post, and it still doesn't work.

Eric M said...

The link on the authority site works. The one you posted for the live video does not.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Eric, could you email me that link? Not sure which one you're referring to. Are you sure you're not watching the live video of the October meeting?

Eric M said...


Try this address:

This is from the SAHSR website. Sorry it is not a link.

Eric M said...

I am watching the video right now

Robert Cruickshank said...

Never mind - we're fixed. CHSRA changed updated their link between the time I originally put up the post and now. The link in the post now works.

Brian Stankievich said...

Got it working, thanks.

I think CAHSR Authority did change their link.

Eric M said...

Anyone remember what the authority's budget is for 2010?

looking on said...

Robert will go nuts, when he reads this post, but here goes anyway.


is an article Titled

Our tax dollars are funding high-priced P.R. campaigns

The author is Jon Coupal, head of the Howard Jarvis taxpayer association.

He is right on about this issue and related to the CHSRA with his comments:

"Our star of the week though is the recent announcement that the mega-P.R. firm Ogilvy is slated to get the contract for the High Speed Rail Authority for - brace yourself - $9 million.

We have to ask ourselves, why does a government agency which has no competition need a $9 million P.R. budget? Well, the real answer is that Californians are coming around to the realization that when a bare majority of them voted for the High Speed Rail Bond, they bought a pig in a poke. Told that $10 billion would get us a top-flight HSR system, it turns out the real price tag is at least $80 billion. Our suspicion is that the $9 million for public relations will be used for damage control once people understand the true cost of this boondoggle.

Anonymous said...

Jon Coupal?! Howard Jarvis?! Enough said on that garbage.

dave said...

@ looking on

Once I read "Howard Jarvis taxpayer association".

I stopped reading!

Anonymous said...

Diridon and Kopp JUST spoke at length several minutes ago about the major (and most immediate needed) role from this PR firm will be damage control. And they gave several specific examples, including the lawsuits, Visalia, Peninsula 'misinformation' control (and there were others given as well). So I think its pretty much right on to say that CHSRA has profound need for a damage control machine and a machine for controlling messaging (ie: propoganda). Even the CHSRA board didn't disagree that it was the PR's firm's specific purpose.

Anonymous said...

Considering the fact that no organization has done more to negatively affect the business climate in the state more than the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association (unless of course you happened to be doing business here and owned land here prior to 1978), I will instinctively go with the opposite of everything that they say.

I did have some reservations about the PR contract. No more.

Jack said...

Howard Jarvis, who once said that since most high-school grads are illiterate it was a waste of money to build public libraries that no one would use.

You can also thank Howard for bankrupting the state of California via prop 13. on which he single-handedly lead the charge.

Check it out:

Way to pick a role-model!

Brian Stankievich said...

SNCF: Net profit $1.5 billion

What do you say "looking on" et al. a government owned, FRENCH government-owned, train company makes a profit. AAA rating. If they can do it why can't California make a profit with it trains?

Brian Stankievich said...

Wow France now at ~500 train sets. California would be ~250 train sets. That is half of France's almost 30 year old system.

That is before any extension to Las Vegas or Phoenix.

Anti-spam word is Boomm. Boom is right!

Unknown said...

@Brian, given that many of SNCF's trainsets are TGV duplex, and that they only have around 30% more trackage miles than the CA system will have, that sounds about right, actually.

Anonymous said...

re Howard Jarvis

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Anonymous said...

Brian, SNCF is the operator of the French system. It is not responsible for the huge capital costs of the French system. The capital costs are massively subsidized by the French government.

Rafael said...

@ Brian Stankievich -

the reason SNCF bought (and keeps buying) TGV Duplex trainsets over e.g. the new AGV is that its core Paris-Lyon line is saturated at roughly 15 trains per hour.

CHSRA estimated in its most recent business plan that it might be running 9 to 11 trains per hour through LA-Fresno by the early 2030s. If Las Vegas gets tied in via a Barstow-Mojave connector, then LA-Mojave could also see 15 trains per hour.

In other words, let's home Alstom wasn't kidding when they said they were working on a duplex design based on the distributed traction architecture of the AGV. Other "high speed" bi-level designs include the Hitachi's E4Max (top speed 240km/h = 149mph) and the Talgo 22 (top speed 200km/h = 125mph).


However, even duplex rolling stock will need to be parked overnight. 250 trainsets, each 200m = 660' long, is a lot of hardware and needs a lot of real estate. There are no plans for significant stabling in LA, so the majority of parking spaces will need to be found near the SF, Anaheim, Sacramento and San Diego stations. For example, based on the service pattern laid out in the business plan and the target line haul times, I estimate there will be a need for ~45 parking spaces = ~360 rail cars in San Diego alone. This includes room for a couple of spares and for a couple of trains undergoing light maintenance. Afaik, Parsons Brinckerhoff hasn't adequately addressed the issue of stabling yards yet.

Brian Stankievich said...

My point is some of the skeptics have poo-pooed the ridership numbers trying to compare SF/SAC-SJV-LA/SD to something like the Paris-Lyon (only) traffic. What SNCF is saying is that the Caliornia system at full build-out is one half to nearly the size of the entire French TGV system.

If 100% of CA's 250 trains are duplex and only 20-30% of the current TGVs are that puts CA at over 3/4 of their current capacity.

Rafael said...

@ Brian Stankievich -

I didn't mean to imply that CHSRA would be buying only duplex trainsets. In fact, none capable of 350-360km/h (~220mph) top speed exist today and all of CHSRA's animations show single-level trainsets.

My point was simply that one section of the network could saturate by 2035 or so if ridership estimates hold and DesertXPress builds its line to be fully compatible with California HSR to avoid transfers and a Barstow-Mojave connector is built and there are at least 4 Las Vegas-Anaheim trains per hour during the same peak periods experienced by California HSR.

That's a lot of IFs, but it is conceivable.

Brian Stankievich said...


No SNCF paid for the first TGV line with their own money. As additional lines were added the French state did contribute increasing %s of money but most was SNCF debt.

The presenter talked about the problems presented by the Separation of SNCF into SNCF, the train company, and RFF, the train tracks company. RFF has most of the debt from building the TGV lines.

The question becomes how to use the HSR operations, which are very profitable, to pays for some of the track capital costs, which are very high.

Note, our "freeways" have zero operating revenue are are subsidized with gas, sales, and others taxes for ALL capital and operating costs.

Anonymous said...

RFF assumed SNCF's capital debt, and RFF is heavily subsidized by the French government. It is misleading to think that French HSR runs at a profit, when it is only the operator that earns a profit off heavy capital investment that is not paid off except by heavy public subsidies.

Unknown said...

@Rafael/Brian: I think if the LA-Mojave line becomes saturated, there would be a rather compelling business case to building another line over the Cajon pass, in addition to the additional capacity, it would reduce the LA-LV trip length by a couple minutes, and would cut a very significant chunk of time off SD-LV, ONT-LV and to a lesser extent SD-SF.

PeakVT said...

SNCF actually runs a coupled pair of duplexes for some of the P/L trains. That consist has 1024 seats and is 1314' long.

Peter said...

Why not park them down by Palmdale. There's bound to be room for them nearby in the desert. That's definitely a lot closer than stabling them in the Bay Area or out in Merced.

dave said...

@ anon 2:15

You yourself are distorting the facts. The operating profit estimate of the full buildout by CHSRA in 2030 fof $1.2B profits is supposed to pay back the bond debt not just profit's to the operator. In this case you assume SNCF will take it's profit and run.

Although I am aware that possibly not all nor maybe not even half of the capital costs will be repaid from profits, it is a self sustaining system once built. Let's see roads do that and no gas taxes will does not cover it.

Anonymous said...

when it is only the operator that earns a profit off heavy capital investment that is not paid off except by heavy public subsidies.

Hmm, sort of like trucking companies? Or like airlines? I am simply aghast. Aghast!

Anonymous said...

$1.2 billion in annual operating profits by 2030 (a big, ambitious assumption) is not going to recover the $45 billion in capital debt (and that's the most optimistic, unreal, low-ball number given by the CHSRA; $100 billion+ is far more likely). Tracks also have to maintained continually, which will also add significantly to costs.

SNCF is a public entity, so it can't just take the profits and run. A private operator of California's HSR could take the profits and run though! The public will be left with the massive capital debt.

Highways did develop a way to finance themselves: the highway user tax, the gas tax. It is true that the gas tax is losing its purchasing power, but this is why many want to increase the gas tax. Increase the gas tax sufficiently, and it would again fund all highway expenses, capital and maintenance. Surprise, surprise, HSR also wants to tap into these federal gas tax revenues for $50 billion! I guess it's not a bad revenue source after all.

lyqwyd said...

@Anon 1:44

"The capital costs are massively subsidized by the French government"

hey, that's like what the US does for our highway system!

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

a stabling yard in Palmdale would be a long way from LA, never mind Anaheim. The operator would have to contend with a lot of dead-head miles unless there is high demand for strictly regional service both in the early morning and in the late evening.

Siting the primary SoCal stabling yard in Palmdale would be analogous to putting the one for NorCal at Merced. Ideally, stabling yards should be located close to the end points of the network to minimize dead-ending.

Peter said...

@ Rafael

Obviously there would be a lot of dead-heading involved, but it would be better than having them all be based out of the Bay Area or Merced.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:44pm -

(a) the $1.2 billion in profit is pre-tax but after accounting for the cost of operating and maintaining both infrastructure and rolling stock.

(b) no-one has ever claimed that California HSR would be able to pay back the capital investment on the starter line, at least not in full. State voters were told in no uncertain terms that the $9.95 billion in prop 1A(2008) bonds are a public investment in low-carbon mobility, intended to provide sufficient capacity to avoid the even more expensive construction of five new runways and 3300 highway land-miles, especially in the hwy 99 corridor.

(c) which part of your body did the $100+ billion number come from? Assertions do not become true just because you and other opponents keep repeating them.

CHSRA does now have a serious problem with cost escalation in the LA-Anaheim section because Parsons Brinkerhoff currently has no incentive to talk cities and residents near the line out of gold-plated solutions like four-track tunnels through suburbia on the backs of state and federal taxpayers. The most expensive decisions are always taken years before any dirt is turned, so project control must not be de facto outsourced to consultants with divided loyalties.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

no-one ever suggested a central stabling yard for the whole fleet. Castle Airport has been suggested for the central heavy maintenance facility, which is separate from plain old overnight parking.

Anonymous said...

A private operator of California's HSR could take the profits and run though!

Not if they are charged a concession fee by the state.

Peter said...

Ahh, I'm sorry, I must have misread the earlier posts.

Anonymous said...

WEll Im back from san digeo and no matter what anyone says, there's definitely no place like home. I did find the location for the HSR station. I noticed from my hotel balcony, the just south of santa fe, and just south of several new condo towers is a large barley used parking area.

This location puts the station within walking distance of SF Depot, the downtown transit center, 2 or 3 trolley lines ( including the line to to convention center immediately to the south as well as a host of new luxury business hotes, walking disntace to the downtown core and across from the cruise ship terminal. the location is right here and the city would be wise to reserve that parking area for the hsr station
station location

Anonymous said...

"no-one has ever claimed that California HSR would be able to pay back the capital investment on the starter line, at least not in full. State voters were told in no uncertain terms that the $9.95 billion in prop 1A(2008) bonds are a public investment"

Well, because they claimed they'd get private equity investment to fund the balances (beyond the piddly amounts the feds will be funding - piddly in the scheme of the total investmnet needed), they in fact did IMPLY that investors would get paid back - because otherwise, how in the hell did they think they were going to attract private investment? Goodneess of investors hearts?

Voters were told in no uncertain terms several things - like 9.95B was ALL that California tax payers would EVER pay. They also told them in no uncertain terms that there would be a business plan in place (which there STILL is not), AND they told them that the plan was based on an approved Program EIR - which no longer exists.

Its all well and good to conitinue to yammer on about highway subsidies, but in fact you're comparing apples to oranges. In the case of HSR - there were profitability committments made to voters, so what the highway system can or can not accomplish is a moot point, irrelevent to the promises that CHSRA has made.

Joey said...


If you're talking about the area I think you're talking about, then it does look doable, though you'd probably have to run elevated tracks up Pacific Highway in order to allow for 400m platforms. They would probably transition to the existing ROW somewhere in the vicinity of Lindbergh Field. It looks fine in theory, but I'm not sure how the locals would react, especially given its proximity to the waterfront.

Of course, there *is* enough room to build two platforms (4 tracks) above the current SFD tracks, though access to those platforms might be an issue, as the existing depot building as well as the configuration of the existing tracks makes an above-ground mezzanine more or less impossible.

Rafael said...

@ Jim -

HSR station platforms need to be both straight and 1320' long (4 city blocks, not 2). The location you have identified doesn't fit the bill.

Anonymous said...

Now since this is an open forum let me run down my wonderful flying experience for the benefit of all those who insist that no one will take the train because it doesn't go anywhere and every one will fly cuz its so darn cheap and easy.

The whole ordeal took just as long to fly both directions as it would have to take hsr to SD.

security at sfo while friendly and efficient as usual, was a step behind in gearing up for the crowd and it took for ever to get through the line, security at san diego was borderline rude, ( in fact now I believe my tourists who always tell me that SF is the friendliest city they visit in cali, cuz san diego certainly was lacking)
The quick flight, on virgin, which is by far the best, was still an exercise in discomfort. still the cattle call, still with the people and the bags and the waiting and the strapping in, and the whole rigamarole. and hour late on the return flight. and after this trip im in my " ill never travel again" mood. maybe im just getting old and fussy, but I am not in the mood for all this damn herding and pushing and crowding and such. forget it.

at least with the train and waltz into the station in my flip flops and carry on, 15 minutes prior, and by the time I get to my seat we'll be half way to fresno. no waiting for everyone to fuss with the seat belts and over head bins before we are even allowed to push back. ugh. forget it. never again. plus y back went out in san diego so that whole being squished in closer to strange poeple than I ever want to be was even more uncomfortable.

if they don't get this train built I swear I will never spend another tourist dollar in this state as long as I live. ( luckily I live in the best place already hands down thats for sure)

build it now please.

Unknown said...

@Jim/Joey: it looks pretty boxed in by those high rises, even if they bought the office depot building, you'd still have to parallel park a 400m train to get it in there. Not quite enough room for a station throat plus a 400m platform.

They might be able to put the 400m platforms over the existing tracks, and put a couple shorter platforms + station facilities to the west in that cubby hole.

Anonymous said...

rafael, its fine they can sqeeze it in. theres no better location than downtown...

and really folks, all the hoo ha about how hsr has to be in the heart of DT SF , yet, in in SD suddenly its fine to put it god knows where. if it has to be downtown in sf then it has to be dt in Sd

Anonymous said...

i was there i saw the spot, theres plenty o' room.

Peter said...

OT, but does anyone know why ACE has been cut to three trains in each direction per day?

Anonymous said...

its 1000ft long.

Rafael said...

@ joey -

in a pinch, two platform tracks and one island or two side platforms will do, provided there is sufficient managed pedestrian flow capacity to and from grade level. A ped/bike over- or underpass can connect the platform(s) to either the Santa Fe Depot building or the new Lindbergh Field terminal, depending on where the San Diego station ends up.

The harder issue by far is where to park ~45 trainsets of 8 cars each overnight. CHSRA needs to find about 10 acres of real estate for the stabling yard.

We've Got No Money for Toys said...

Hellooooo train huggers! Always making your choo choo train plans using other people's money, uh? The tax payers' money I mean. But what should I expect. Making grandiose plans using taxpayers money is soooo socialist! I shouldn'd expect any less from you guys.

So when do you expect to be able to travel on this train? In the year 2099? Or maybe later? Have you found the money yet? Still looking?

Ok, I'll visit you again in a few days. I wouldn't want to wake up one morning with a high speed train passing by without knowing that was actually being built. I want to be warned ahead of time, so that I can start book my train ticket. Well! I guess a still have a few decades to go.

See you soon guys!

looking on said...

Thank you anon 4:49 who wrote

Voters were told in no uncertain terms several things - like 9.95B was ALL that California tax payers would EVER pay. They also told them in no uncertain terms that there would be a business plan in place (which there STILL is not), AND they told them that the plan was based on an approved Program EIR - which no longer exists.

All of this is absolutely true. Listen sometime to the radio interview with Judge Kopp in Feb 2008 to confirm.

Rafael is right that they never promised to pay back prop 1A funds.

They did promise to repay private equity investment with profits for them and they promised to pay for the further expansion to San Diego and Sacramento with funds that would be generated from operating profits.

That was the deal the CHSRA made to the voters of California.

They have reneged on not asking for more California funds, but outright seeking funds from local agencies and government entities. Apparently if you want a station, you now have to pay for it. They are trying to extract funds from local sources in anyway they can. That was not part of the campaign.

My how things change.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

1000ft is too short. HSR platforms need to be 1320' long to accommodate full-length trains of 2x8 cars.

Besides, I'm not sure how you're measuring. The rectangular area in the downtown area of your map is 800 feet north to south, but then the tracks would be in the existing railroad corridor, wouldn't they?

San Diego doesn't need a giant downtown bus terminal because it has SD Trolley service right at both Santa Fe station and at the site of the future airport terminal. It can also do without a shopping mall. Focus on the platforms and platform tracks first, the building is secondary for a system that runs on time and feature level entry trains.

I do like that you show a realistic area for the stabling yard. Are we talking about an elevated structure for that?

Unknown said...

its 1000ft long.

And a 400m train is 1312 feet long. Plus you need the tracks going in and the tracks coming out (if you're going to continue those trains down to the storage yard you outlined).

perhaps they could bend their own rules and put it all on a slight curve. Might fit if they take that Office Depot.

Joey said...

I thought Jim was talking about the area between Harbor Drive, Pacific Highway, and Broadway. There seems to be plenty of room there. A couple of small structures would have to be demolished, true, but given the additional parking lot north of this space and the fact that there really only need to be two platforms, there is probably enough room for a station+throat all in that space.

Joey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wmata said...

The sooner this blog moves to Wordpress (and IP banning is used), the better.

Joey said...

Guess I didn't see Jim's link.

Rafael said...

@ looking on -

the original business plan from 2000 was based on a state sales tax hike plus federal co-funding. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the idea of a tax hike and forced the Authority to go back to the drawing board. The result was a funding plan based on a mix of federal, state, local and private sources.

I can recall Rod Diridon mentioning a figure of $2-3 billion in local (i.e. county and city) funding during radio interviews the run-up to the 2008 elections, but I agree that wasn't widely advertised or known.

The number didn't appear in print until the 2008 business plan (p25 PDF), which of wasn't available until after Nov 4 because the state legislature was far too late in approving the budget for CHSRA.

CHSRA stated that $9.95 billion was all state taxpayers were on the hook for but that's a bureaucrat's way of approaching the issue. Taxpayers all pay federal, state and local taxes so what they heard was something different. SF is an exception, voters there understood full well that the city would be on the hook for a large portion of the Transbay Terminal project.

That said, the fundamental reason local co-funding is now necessary - especially from cities/counties that want extra-fancy stations - is the Governor's ideologically motivated refusal to permit a sales tax hike.

Unknown said...

Squeezing in six platform tracks above the current station would be tight, and might have to use a staggered layout to avoid demolishing some high-rises, but it should be doable.

One thing about locating the HSR station at the airport is that the San Diego Airport is actually not that far from downtown. It's certainly not as good as the Santa Fe Station, but it's only about two miles away (a mile and a half from Santa Fe). It's really more of an analogue to a station at 4th and King in SF, it's not really like putting it at SFO.

Anonymous said...

Let's interject some reality into this thread.

1. The level of security hassles between air and rail will will become a lot more similar than today. The first time a jihader hits an American train security will become much tighter. In the meantime, the airlines, driven by the need to survive, will make progress in speeding up security.

2. Europe is not quite the travelers' paradise that some would like to portray. Last nite's French tv news ran a story on a Paris bus line(I think #303)which now requires a convoy of a cop car in front and back and two flics on board to keep the gangbangers off the passengers. And Sarko is in power, not the Socialist Party.

3. Autos will always enjoy the enormous advantage of being diy. The driver is waiving union scale. What about ****ed Philly? BART's militant unions will migrate to the hsr with their non-negotiable demands. Bay Area transit is getting to be sky-high - the hsr tickets will be too expensive for the working class.

Rafael said...

@ AndyDuncan -

I don't think there's a need for six platform tracks in San Diego. Four would be good, two minimal.

It's not clear that additional station buildings would be needed, Santa Fe Depot is quite large. Besides, HSR passengers tend not to spend a whole lot of time lounging around. They arrive, go through security (if any) and board their train within minutes.

These days, you can buy tickets online and print them at home/at the office or even have them sent to your mobile phone via SMS. Touch-screen kiosks provided unmanned points of sale in the station building. Bottom line: you don't need a large station hall where people can queue up to buy tickets.

Btw: in theory at least, it would be possible to have a "virtual" station in San Diego, with two platform tracks at the Santa Fe Depot and another two at Lindbergh Field. Trains would stop only at one or the other. A single station would be less confusing, though.

Joey said...

Trouble with the existing station building is, there doesn't seem to be a way to build a mezzanine with access to it without modifying the building itself.

Matthew Fedder said...

If only there were some fast, affordable, convenient, comfortable, environmentally friendly way to get to Sacramento, more of us could be there.


Matthew Fedder said...

No time to draw a map at the moment... Personally I think Old Town should be considered for San Diego's terminus. It's got quick trolley links to east county (Green line), down town and south bay (blue line), and soon enough, north San Diego (mid-coast line, whatever color it ends up being), and the Coaster to north county.

There aren't any skyscrapers around - as long as you stay west of Old Town itself, no buildings that can't be eminent domained at a reasonable cost.

It is also close to two major freeways, and already has lots of bus routes.

If they can't find some empty space in Miramar to park some trains, I'd be surprised.

Anonymous said...

AS for the trolley system. Its lacking as far as signage and announcements. i have to say, IOT ok my visually impaired mom down there and it was really lacking, she encountered the rudest of trolley drivers, and a complete lack of stop announcements. and old town, and the airport are horrible locations for hsr. both are adjacent to "no mans lands" areas of sd. not atractive at all. its got to be santa fe/ or at broadway ( as shown on my map) or at the convention center.

again, why is it that there is such a fuss on this board to get hsr into dt sf but not dt sd?

trust judging by the what I saw in the various hoods down there, the station needs to between somewhere between santa fe and convention center. it really does. san diego is above all else, a convention town and if you are gonna put hsr in the sf business core, the LA business core, then it should be in sd business core. ( or put it in hillcrest.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

ok ok here check this out then... this one is 1300 ft easy - room for a simple grade level two track station right in front of the convenction center and directly across from petco park, with immediate access to the yards for though put and storage.

the row is between the mlk promenade and the trolley line... station location

Anfre Peretti said...

"Heavily subsidized French trains" is one of the lies repeated over and over to scare the American taxpayer.
Now that the SNCF (operator) and RFF (network owner) are separated, profitability may be more difficult to evaluate but the building of the first HSR line predates that separation. The SNCF issued the bonds, built the line and bought the trains. The state paid nothing.
By the way, few TGV users realize what they owe to Wall Street's eagerness to subscribe the SNCF's bonds.
How is it that American bankers invest in French trains but completely ignore projects in their own country?

Anonymous said...

you know, what is "not in my backyard" was the jeopardy answer for "nimby" just now.
and on the tv on virgin today, there was this clip of some musician from LA i guess and he was in japan, and he was on the bullet train being interviewed, some rap artist I guess, and he said that whenever he leaves japan and flys back to the states, that the plane is like a time machine taking him back to some olden era of horses and buggies, and that america needs to get with it" lol pretty funny. of course then he said, the bullet train was the fastest train in the world ( which it isnt) and that it runs on magnets not track, ( which it doesn't- I mean you see the tracks outside the window) but he meant well.

Matthew Fedder said...

Hi Jim,

I know what you mean about a no-mans-land: I've made the same argument against a Qualcomm stop (which the Rose Canyon preservationists prefer, since it avoids their particular special interest). And a Gaslamp Quarter stop would be absolutely fabulous in terms of dropping visitors off in the middle of a "destination".

But HSR needs to be more than a way to get IN to San Diego - it has to be a way to get OUT of it as well, as conveniently as possible. And getting downtown - especially if you have to park there - is not anyone's idea of convenient.

We only get one HSR station - and it can't be everywhere. So, it needs to connect with as much local transportation as possible - that means trolleys, busses, AND autos.

I really really really don't see San Diegans going for an elevated train along Harbor Drive (remember: the bottom of the glideway would have to be above the tops of the freight trains that bring supplies to the Naval Shipyards and other docks).

View corridors are a big deal here - ever wonder why there are almost no tall buildings along Mission Bay, PB, and Ocean Beach? There are laws! Sea World had to get a proposition on the ballot to build a roller coaster. Downtown, maybe... but there are already a lot of frustrated people angry at how much the Convention Center blocks the view. It would be better to avoid such battles, if possible.

Matthew Fedder said...

P.S. "Oh hey let's just ignore that we're assuming we can take over the only maintenance facility for San Diego's light rail transit!" - I'd recommend that you not place too much hope in the fantasies of the downtown HSR train yard.

Anonymous said...


oh well, good for san diego for protecting their views and waterfront. Im all for that. and i think you are right about the locals getting out of town, they are gonna take the 5 and the 8. so i see your point

Andre Peretti said...

@anon 5:56pm
You can't generalize to all Europe what happens in Paris suburban buses. There is a problem with youths of arab or african origin who don't seem to adapt to western civilization. So, they "express themselves", as sociologists say, by destroying public property or molesting white people who venture in their neighborhoods. The problem is not specific to transit. A private car driven by a white person would also be in trouble.
As for terrorists planting bombs on trains or sabotaging the tracks, they have tried it on the TGV. The results were so unspectacular that they switched to better targets such as crowded subway platforms. And you can't hijack a train and crash it on the Pentagon.

Anonymous said...

@andre, sounds like sfmuni.

Joey said...

There does seem to be a good chunk of space northeast of Lindbergh field that is large enough for a HSR yard (a few parking lots occupy parts of it), though this would probably interfere with long-term plans to move the terminal facilities to that side of the airport.

Matthew Fedder said...

Hi Joey,

Yeah, that's pretty much all set aside at this point for "destination Lindberg".

Spokker said...

"CHSRA does now have a serious problem with cost escalation in the LA-Anaheim section"

The LA-Anaheim section should be cancelled for a couple reasons. First, the LOSSAN corridor will not receive the kind of benefits that the Caltrain corridor will be receiving. Surfliner and Metrolink trains will continue to be the diesel type and run on freight tracks.

Second, you get a lot more bang for your buck upgrading the LOSSAN corridor from SB to LA to SD for 110 MPH operation. You pull out those bottlenecks between LA and SD and offer a 2 hour ride and it'll kill on that route.

The HSR route from LA-SF is key, but LA-Anaheim, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go to the CSS meeting for the Peninsula?

Just saw this on their website:

Joey said...

I'm sorry, but TBH I don't really see any benefit to putting the station at Lindbergh Field. It's not really near anything, and airport access only benefits a few people in Escondido, Murrieta, and the Inland Empire. Downtown makes a lot more sense, and isn't really all that hard to build (though as Rafael pointed out, it's finding a storage yard that is the problem).

BTW how much in the way of "support facilities" does SAN really need? Half of the northern area currently earmarked for that purpose would be plenty for a HSR stabling yard (and there's still unaccounted for space in the southern portion of the facility that could potentially also be used for support facilities, as shown by the massive technical report.

Anonymous said...

ok wait, now isnt sd getting a univerity city or some such station... which would serve ( look at your google satellite folks) would serve all those sprawling areas north of the i-8 whereas the downtown station could serve all those south of the 8 including the the southern and eastern burbs via the 94 the 54 and 5/905 here like this see

Matthew Fedder said...

The HSR rail yard just needs to be "near" San Diego, not immediately adjacent to the station. I'd lay even odds it winds up in Miramar - which will only be a few minutes away.

I agree that Lindberg doesn't seem like the best place for the stop. I wonder what use cases they're anticipating? Or is it just a matter of "The airport has a big parking lot; The train has a big parking lot. We put them together, and now we have a VERY big parking lot"?

But for all its density, downtown San Diego is not transit oriented, except on Broadway itself. How many people take the trolley to Gaslamp for nightclubbing? Heck, even on my last jury, only 3 out of 19 of us took public transit in. Practically everything in the triangle between Gaslamp, Broadway, and the train tracks is no-man's land as well - sidewalks in front of gated expensive apartment complexes (all with underground parking), with few restaurants or other destinations (none affordable).

Wherever the station goes, needs to have a lot of room available for redevelopment, to accommodate new transit connection infrastructure. Downtown has some nice destinations - but it is not the only destination, and although Santa Fe comes closest, there's nowhere there to put a station that will allow it to connect with the entire city.

So again, that's why I like Old Town. Coaster, 3 trolley lines, 2 freeways, 10 bus routes already there... and most importantly, easy connections downtown, and room to grow.

Brandon in California said...

Well... I was about to say that I am probably the most qualified/informed to speak to San Diego downtown concerns. And then Matthew Fedder comes along!

Good job Matt, you nailed the concerns... at least with respect to view corridors.

I'd like to add... anything elevated south of Broadway will be DOA. It's about those view corridors. And, that invisible line may have moved north to A Street since the CHSRA adopted its preferred elevated alignment several years ago.

The weird thing about San Diego, particularly downtown, is that it has responded very similarly to the SimCity game scenario where an area just goes 'pop' with new high rise development.

An area where this has been pronounced is the Santa Fe Depot 2x4 block - 5 towers have gone up and another planned since CHSRA made their historic decision. In fact, the first location cited by Jim is supposedly planned/approved to be an Irvine Co. signature tower for San Diego.

In my opinion, Lindbergh Field is a ridiculously site for HSR to terminate for the same reasons mentioned above. Plus, there is virtually zero synergy between planes and trains in San Diego... unless you consider having taxi's readily available. For commuters, it is not effecient at all.

HSR should be downtown. Presently, the best option, and original option, is at Santa Fe Depot between Ash and Broadway.

Elevated is a real challenge at SFD when considering the lateral constraints and separation, also with residential high-end condo's less than 50 feet away.

Below grade appears to offer the next best option; assuming the throat from the north and into the station can be worked out - that's where 2 tracks will need to widen to 4 or 6.

I believe 4 was the original thought from CHSRA. And, teh station non-paid area would be the block bounded by Ash, Kettner, A and the tracks.

Downtown at SFD has a plethora of transit options. Additionally, even more Trolley lines are planned to run through SFD.

The Green Line from Mission Valley is slated to be extended from Old Town to SFD.... and then to 12th & Imperial along Harbor in the next few years. And, the planned line to University City will likely run through SFD too... as a separate independent line, or as an extension of the Orange Line.

And let me not forget... there are other sites discussing HSR. On another, one poster wrote that their spouse is working on something related to the project - examining a below grade (trench?) alignment in the area from Old Town to Downtown.

An item not discussed here, or anywhere, is how to get over/under the San Diego River and I-8... just north of Old Town.

Old Town has logic for a station site. I am just not certain it works for downtown... where 90,000 jobs are located and another 80,000 are planned... and which is both the symbolic and functional center of San Diego. It seems it needs to be downtown for many purposes. Plus, that is the essentially the main tourist destination for hospitality and functions.

Joey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Fedder said...

Hi Jim,

University Towne Center (UTC, for short) is planned to get a station, and it should meet up with a trolley station as well, the northern terminus of the Mid Coast line.

(Long ago, some starry-eyed optimist thought the Coaster could bore a tunnel under UTC as well, shortening the trip downtown by a good piece. It would also give the Coaster an earlier opportunity to meet up with the HSR, if that plan were carried out. But although it was on the list to be considered, it didn't even make it into the third tier of the list San Diego sent to the state to request simulus money for - yeah that one, the one the state dropped altogether to put all its force behind HSR funding. But I digress...)

But having had a lot of experience in the UTC area over the last 10 years, it is a horrible place to get into and out of. It's the nexus of inaccessibility between a series of neighborhoods intentionally hacked into pieces by San Diego's well-intentioned but poorly-thought-out "neighborhood" system. I'd hate to curse anyone with having to come here.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Joey: Re: Business accommodations: They'll hop the blue line downtown, or the green line to mission valley. It requires one transfer, but try counting the number of hotels in walking distance of Santa Fe Depot? If they've got more than a backpack, they're already hopping the trolley to the convention center hotels.

Re: trolley lines: The mid-coast trolley line to UTC is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018. See - that'll be the third line. I have no idea if it'll go downtown, or if the green-line will take a hard right, or otherwise how it will integrate at Old Town, but it will be going there.

Anonymous said...

Spoker posted:

The HSR route from LA-SF is key, but LA-Anaheim, not so much.

You are not going to be friend of Chair Pringle that's for sure.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Brandon: I initially liked the idea of the HSR stop at Lindberg - but I think it was one of your comments in an earlier thread that got me thinking about the, as you say, complete lack of synergy.

Anything underground down by the bay is fraught with water-table problems (though that's certainly mitigable). There has to be some risk from excavating within a few feet of skyscrapers, as well. Well, I'd certainly be interested to see what they come up with as well. Have any preliminary schematics on that been released, or is it purely thinking-of-thinking-of at this stage?

I hadn't heard that the green line was going to continue downtown - in fact, I've always wondered why they don't already. If Mid-coast and green-line both continued downtown, that would help with the interconnectedness. (It certainly makes sense for the green line to connect the mission valley hotels with the convention center and downtown tourism).

Unfortunately, Mid-coast will probably be the last major trolley expansion in San Diego. I can think of a dozen places trolleys should run, but never will.

Brandon in California said...

Matthew, you're too informed. I can tell.

Info speaking to the Green Line being extended to downtown San Diego is public. It was in the UT a couple years ago. I do not know if plans have changed since.

The challenge and delay with the Green being extended to downtown has to do with the phased introduction of low-floor light-rail vehicles; which is what the transit system here is intent on implementing throughout the network. They are currently only on the Green Line from Old Town to Santee. The existing platforms south of Old Town and into downtown need to be raised a couple inches to make that happen. Low-floors currently only run on the Green Line; from Old Town to Santee.

If the Green Line were extended to SFD and then beyond along 12th/Imperial, the Blue Line would no longer need to run north of SFD. But, then there's the question about where/how to terminate it. It carries about 60,000 riders each day in/out of downtown… so it needs to hit the core of downtown along C Street – the East-west downtown corridor.

Anyway, once the Green were extended south of SFD to 12th/Imperial along Harbor Blvd, the Orange Line would no longer need to turn south at SFD and could run north, hypothetically serving the new extension to mid-coast.

Of note, although C Street serves teh core, that line is at or near its line capacity. It cannot absorb an additional line... maybe a slight increase to an existing line, but that's it. 12 trains each hour and each direction run at-grade through downtown... that's a lot!!!! But that is also where peeps are headed.

All that said, I think the transit plan could be improved, provided sufficeint funding were available. I like both the Blue and Orange being put underground downtown.... up Park, west on Broadway... and terminate at SFD at the new HSR station. The Green and mid-coast could both run south from Old Town to SFD, and then along Harbor to 12th/Imperial. Transferees would do so at SFD and the new HSR station there.

Brandon in California said...

Folks, I have attempted to learn the drawing tools available in Google Maps and do mock-ups like Rafael and Jim have done. Here's my first attempt at portraying a downtown San Diego station at Santa Fe Depot... with some other pertinent plans.

Let's see if this hyper link works:

Downtown San Diego HSR Station Area.

Brandon in California said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandon in California said...

Oh, tunnels can be constructed adjacent to towers. The main things for consideration, as far as I know, is the type of foundation used by the tower.

If tie-backs are used... essentially running rods laterally underground and into the ROW, then a tunnel could really only be constructed using cut-and-cover construction techniques... and re-doing the tower foundation in some other way.

Tunnel boring machines would chew up those tie-backs... possibly damaging the TBM and undermining the structural foundation to a building.

This stuff is all researched before any real work is done... and vetted in planning documents.

Arthur Dent said...

@Matthew Fedder -

Since we have you here, do you still stand by your letter from last year that,
”Reason Foundation senior fellow George Passantino's commentary on Proposition 1A stokes fears where none should be. Not a single cent of bonds would be issued until the remaining funds for the project are secured, ensuring that the project would not begin until it can be completed. That funding would not be difficult to secure.”

Rafael said...

@ Brandon in San Diego -

your map works fine for me. All it's missing is a place to park 45 trainsets :-)

Brandon in California said...

Har har... I believe CHSRA origionally picked Miramar for a maintenance and storage facility.

As for Sante Fe Depot, assuming 4 tracks and 2 platforms, the actual station area would need to be 110 feet wide, approximately. 23-25 feet per two sets of tracks (=50ish) and two 30 foot wide platforms (=60).

Additionally, 1300 to 1400 feet long.... approximately.


I am uncertain the platforms need to be that wide at the very front at the north end approach - TBT does not have them, why should SFD be held to a tangent platform standard.

If a modest curve were designed in the platform, only at the north end, the transition from the neck (north of Ash Street) into the station may work fine.

I do not have that area squarred away in that map, but if below grade and at separate level from freight/Amtrak/Coaster and Trolley... there should be sufficient room.

Laterally, from property line to pproperty line, there is approximately 140-150 feet available.

Rafael said...

@ Arthur Dent -

AB3034(2008), the bill enacted by the passage of prop 1A(2008), does indeed include safeguards intended to guard against turning dirt too early.

However, there are some caveats:

(a) the bill segments the entire network into eight "corridor", each of which would yield a useful piece of infrastructure in its own right, e.g. SF-SJ, LA-Anaheim, Fresno-Bakersfield etc. The safeguards apply to each of these segments individually.

(b) the bill reserves $950 million for capital improvements to HSR feeder services. Of the remaining $9 billion, up to 10% ($900 million) may be spent on planning and preliminary engineering. The legislature may appropriate this slice without matching non-state funds, but only for those purposes.

(c) AB3034 was written without any possible stimulus bill in mind. California's request for ARRA funds included a commitment that the state would match whatever grant volume USDOT authorizes dollar for dollar via the sale of prop 1A(2008) bonds.

Since ARRA HSR funds require that actual construction begin no later than Sep 30, 2012, CHSRA prioritized component projects such as urgent grade separations and electrification of the Caltrain corridor that would provide lasting value of taxpayers even full funding of the respective corridor had not yet been secured by that date.

In a way, the safeguards in AB3034 against turning dirt too early and the stimulus bill's requirement to turn dirt as early as possible contradict one another. A lot depends on the progress CHSRA can make on the EIS/EIR between now and the Sep 30, 2012 deadline.

Morris Brown said...

@Rafael and Dent:

Actually, Prop 1A states full funding must be in place for completion of a corridor or segment before construction can begin.

A segment is defined as being a minimum of a least the portion between two stations.

Now none of the stimulus funding requests will produce a completed segment or corridor.

In particular if you look at the SF to Merced portion, where they have asked for doing specific projects, like electrifying from SF to San Jose, that alone will not make a completed segment.

The strings like this attached to Prop 1A were put into place to ensure that useful segments/corridors would be completed and that if funding for a completed system was never found, at least something useful would be the result.

The Fed Stimulus package does not require matching state funds, but the letter sent to the FRA emphasized that California (uniquely) was in a position to match Federal funds, and that essentially the Federal funds would be getting a bigger bang for their bucks.

I wrote the CHSRA a letter noting these restrictions, which was acknowledged by Judge Kopp at its board meeting and turned over to its legal staff. (this was before the stimulus funds applicatin was sent out).

I have personally not had a reply to my objections, that Prop 1A funds cannot be matched to the stimulus funding, since the full funding requirements for a segment/corridor are not in place.

The State legislature has full authority on approving construction funding. Will they proceed to do what Prop 1A mandates or will they ignore their own legislation and attempt to use these bond funds regardless of the law.

There is also the matter that the SF to Merced corridor no longer has an EIR certified. Prop 1A as passed by the voters stated that the EIR was certified.

Morris Brown said...

As an information note, Senator Benoit, the only republican on the key sub-committee chaired by Senator Simitian and with Senator Lowenthal, constitute the group, is resigning his senate seat to take an appointment to the Riverside Board of supervisors.

It will be interesting to see who will replace him on this 3 man sub-committee.

Anonymous said...

The letters should probably not be going to the CHSRA as much as to the State Attorney General, who should be enforcing the laws.

Anonymous said...

Prop 1A as passed by the voters stated that the EIR was certified.

This is true. Your implication that decertification somehow invalidates 1A is not, however. We've home over this before.

Unknown said...

@Morris: "The strings like this attached to Prop 1A were put into place to ensure that useful segments/corridors would be completed and that if funding for a completed system was never found, at least something useful would be the result."

Whether or not prop 1a mandates that the segments be fully-operational HSR systems with signaling and rolling stock (I don't believe it does), I would think that electrification, grade separation and quad-tracking would certainly count as "something useful".

Unknown said...

On a slightly tangential note, the Bart to Livermore Draft EIR/EIS is out, detailing their alternatives for connecting BART to ACE and the potential HSR "commuter overlay".

I know BART is expensive, and it's proprietary, and yada yada yada. But someone is going to have to explain to me how a 12 mile line down a freeway median, on an aerial over a quarry, and along an existing, grade-separated ROW to an above-ground station is going to cost three billion dollars.

That's roughly the same cost per mile as the Wilshire subway is expected to run, and with more stations, underground, along one of the busiest streets in the world.

Peter said...

@ AndyDuncan

I was wondering that myself. It does seem to be a bit ... steep? Maybe they have to widen the freeway? From what the attorney for BART told me, they don't have the funding for the extension yet, so maybe this is the future price, after inflation?

And this is while the BART to Warm Springs is supposedly below budget?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morris Brown said...


Prop 1A was to fund High Speed Rail, not to fund CalTrain or an electrical system that might prove to be only useful for CalTrain

HSR requires full grade separations, these will not be funded with these stimulus funds.

In point of fact, the Authority had an opportunity to comply with Prop 1A, if they had chosen to funnel all the funds into one segment, say LA to Anaheim or Merced to Fresno or other examples.

Instead, they played the political game, by applying for funds to give something to everybody; some money up north, some in the central valley, some down south and some on what is to be a phase II extension down to San Diego.

They chose to ignore their own Director's recommendation on what should go first, thus setting up the strong possibility that they won't meet Federal time deadlines and may well lose the stimulus funding as an end result.

Unknown said...

@Peter and AndyDuncan

It seems logical. BART is about $200 million a mile. Airport extension was $170m/mile. If you look at appendix B, the EIR/EIS includes a yard and shop for about ~$500 million. Which brings the price to approx $209 million / mile.

I think we should be asking ourselves if HSR costs are correct. ROW does play a factor but so does having a max 1% grade and high speed curves which utilizies more ROW. In addition a very expensive train sets.

Peter said...

@ Transit

Well, the "high speed curves" on the Peninsula are not exactly high speed. They are not really straightening anything. Therefore they won't need to go outside of the ROW by very much.

Anonymous said...

RAfael are you sure there needs be parking for 45 train sets? why would this be? as trains start the day, youd only need a few trains sets for the first few departures as arrivals would start arriving within the hour to turn back.

Unknown said...

@transit, I guess I was asking why BART is $200m/mile on an aerial. That's maglev territory.

Unknown said...

And why does a 12 mile extension to an existing line need $300m in rolling stock and a $700m maintenance facility (Another 200m is listed for land acquisition for the maintenance facility).

If this is a "Livermore extension, Maintenance facility, and rolling stock upgrade for the Dublin/Pleasanton line", then perhaps. But it seems like bad marketing to sell it as a $3-3.8Billion "Bart to Livermore".

Anonymous said...

Why is BART so expensive?

Because EXACTLY THE SAME PEOPLE whose interest it was to select the most expensive, least useful, most laughably ridership-inflated and most self-enriching "high speed" system are behind it.

Look at the cast of characters.
There can be no surprises.

These aren't transportation projects.
They aren't environmental projects.
They aren't Keynsian pump-priming projects.
They are purely and solely welfare projects for the people who lobby for, design, promote and build them ... and how convenient that they're all the same people! Saves all the trouble of dividing up the spoils and bills too many ways.

What's good for PBQD and Bechtel is good for California.

Anonymous said...

What's good for PBQD and Bechtel is good for California.

thats right. providing good jobs and at the same time priming the pump for supporting employment is good for california, especially considering how the other approach of deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy was a miserable failure that got us into the mess we are in today in the first place.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

from the BART to Livermore Draft EIS/EIR pp7 PDF:

"[...] under improvement scenarios
for I-580 through 2035, and as described in the regional transportation plan, the freeway median is not
sufficiently wide east of the existing terminus to accommodate BART track and/or additional freeway-median stations. BART construction requires a minimum 46-foot width between freeway
lanes to allow operation of trains in each travel direction, including allowances for outboard retaining
walls where necessary and continuous security fencing."

Google Maps' satellite view is admittedly not a precise tool, but it suggests the available width in the I-580 median east of Pleasanton is 38 feet. The width actually used west of Pleasanton is 38 feet. Note sure where the 46 foot requirement comes from, a 14 foot loading gauge plus 10 foot clearance and 2 foot divider on each side equals 38 feet.

As for freeway median stations, note that there is no law that says all BART stations shall have island platforms. Just elevate the tracks high enough to permit cantilevered side platforms above the left lanes in each direction and build pedestrian bridges to the side of the freeway and stairs/elevators down to grade level.

Not that anyone really wants more stations in that freeway median, mind you. It's just that the Isabel/I-580 is by far the cheapest. Even that five-mile section comes in at a whopping $1120 million ($224 million/mile).

From a transportation perspective, the Quarry Rd. option at $1610 million would permit an intermodal transfer station with ACE just west of Stanley/Isabel in Livermore, possibly at the expense of the downtown ACE station.

It would be a useful reality check to see how much money ACE would need to press the old SP alignment between Niles and Tracy back into regular commuter service as a second track, with a new connector west of Tracy. Between I-680 and Valley Ave in Pleasanton, the existing active UPRR ROW would be double-tracked instead.

Anonymous said...

the job of building something in california creates jobs for people in california. those jobs can not be outsourced.
The guys who build the railroad, will take their lunch breaks at the local diner and put money into the pocket of the waitress who serves them and the local business owner who owns the business as well as providing a paycheck for the construction guy so he can pay his mortgage rather than go into foreclosure so that his neighborhood values can keep from falling. what is the alternative? do nothing and let the state fall into depression and food lines? give away more tax cuts to the wealthy so they can invest in overseas factories, and hide their profits? I think we've already been down that road and you can see where it led.
investing billions into california for a project that will provide both immediate and long term returns makes sense.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

the reason so many parking spaces are needed in San Diego is that CHSRA's plans do not include any stabling in LA at all. There are no plans for HSR trains between just LA and SD.

Therefore, the first train of the day that could be turned around would be the first one to arrive from San Francisco (or Sacramento). Say that leaves at 6:00am. It would arrive in San Diego at around 10:15am and need 30min cleaning before it can be sent on its merry way again. That means all northbound trains out of San Diego between 6:00am and 10:45am need to rely on trainsets stabled in San Diego.

In addition to the scheduled trains, I figured you'd want a couple of spares and and another two might be temporarily unavailable due to light maintenance in San Diego, so I upped the total of required parking spaces from 41 to 45 for belts and suspenders.

Unknown said...

@Rafael: the freeway median you can see on google maps is being converted into a carpool lane for the most part, so they would need to widen the freeway by almost the full required ROW width.

I'm sad to see that a simple line across the quarry and up the UPRR ROW at grade to a single at-grade downtown station wasn't included as one of the alternatives.

The Vasco station would be almost close enough to provide for people travelling to LLNL/Sandia with some sort of shuttle bus, but that's only about 10k people/day, and most of them already live in Livermore. It would also require buying an entire business-park's worth of warehouses, though I still don't see how that gets you to their listed ROW acquisition costs.

The Greenville stations would apparently be placed on bart-owned land, which helps with cost, slightly. But they really are in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing out there and they would be entirely dependent on commuters from the valley.

An intermodal downtown with ACE seems like a prerequisite to me. Adding another stop to the ACE train at Isabel and stanley is a poor solution.

There's no reason to build a subway in Livermore other than NIMBYs, but I have to say the isabel/580 with a subway down portola to an ACE intermodal looks like the best of the given alternatives.

The isabel/580 station would be positioned to handle the park/ride and bus-transfers, while the downtown station would handle ACE/HSR transfers and local passengers.

Bloody expensive though. I say save the money for a downpayment on a new transbay tube.

Rafael said...

@ Andy Duncan -

so cancel the carpool lane project and redirect the associated funds to upgrading ACE.

Fight the asphalt lobby!

Unknown said...

@Rafael: Hey, I'm with you. Down here in LA we've got a one beelion dollar project to add a single carpool lane to the northbound 405 between westwood and the 101.

Not even one lane each direction. oh no. one single monodirectional lane.

For a billion bucks. You could build half a Bart Extension to Livermore for that...

Maybe I'm just bitter because I was cut off three times last night by a prius driver (solo) and two minivans full of children swerving across the 91 to get to the "carpool" lane.

Totally worthwhile, those lanes, kept at least a half-dozen 8 year olds from driving themselves to soccer practice.

Alon Levy said...

Andre: yes, the LGV Sud-Est was funded by bonds on Wall Street (which, I believe, SNCF repaid in full by 1990). I'm pretty sure that if Amtrak decided to go to Wall Street with a decent plan for HSR in the US, it'd get money, too. Even its current business plan, with esoteric ideas like 5" cant deficiency on curvy track and four-tracking legacy lines, might get money.

Anonymous said...

To get private investment, you have to provide returns on capital. The SNCF/RFF shell game has never produced a surplus on capital expenditure and has always required heavy subsidy (almost 1% of France's GDP!). No private investors can be found for California's HSR, because where is the return on capital investment?

OK, so HSR requires ongoing subsidies like many other forms of infrastructure, but let's at least be honest about it.

To justify subsidy is one thing, to deny it is another. It would be reasonable to attempt to
show that public spending on rail is desirable, in the same way as is public spending on
education or justice, citing the benefits that the community derives in terms of safety,
emissions, or national development. It would be a difficult exercise, particularly because
railway users - the beneficiaries of these public expenditures - are mainly the rich so that the
expenditures are regressive. Nevertheless the exercise would be legitimate.

What is not legitimate is to conceal the facts. As Tartuffe said in Molliere: "Oh, hide this hole
from me lest I see it." It seems that for some people the main thing is for the subsidy to be
invisible and inaudible - because “it is no sin to sin in silence." The actions of the SNCF and
the RFF are perhaps understandable. After all a deficit is not good for morale. On the other
hand Institutions that have such a high opinion of themselves are perhaps unable to view the
matter in its true light.

Joey said...

Still failing to make the distinction between profitable HSR and subsidized conventional rail, are we, anon? The TGV isn't SNCF's only operation, you know.

Joey said...

Does anyone have any data for just the TGV revenue/expenditure, or similar data for any other HSR system (i.e. Shinkansen, AVE)?

Alon Levy said...

Anon, the link you give is so abusive it never bothers to distinguish SNCF's intercity operations, which are profitable, from its commuter operations, which are subsidized by local governments.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Squeezing in six platform tracks above the current station would be tight, and might have to use a staggered layout to avoid demolishing some high-rises, but it should be doable.

Why would they need 6 platforms in San Diego? If they ever get up to 6 trains per hour in each direction that would mean a train could wander in to platform 1 at 7:00 and not have to wander back out until 8:00. The next one on to track two at 7;10 and not have to leave until 8:10. 12 per hour in each direction would mean a 30 minute dwell. 4 platforms is probably adequate for the next century or so.

it would be possible to have a "virtual" station in San Diego, with two platform tracks at the Santa Fe Depot and another two at Lindbergh Field. Trains would stop only at one or the other. A single station would be less confusing, though.

They why do all the HSR trains have to go to Transbay? Half of them could stop at 4th and half could skip 4th to only serve Transbay. . . Halves the frequency to either station too assuming they build both. Though with an astounding 4 or 5 trains a hour in each direction there's no way they could have all trains serve both two platform stations.....

though this would probably interfere with long-term plans to move the terminal facilities to that side of the airport.

Put the terminal over the HSR station and the parking lots over the storage yard.....

Say that leaves at 6:00am. It would arrive in San Diego at around 10:15am and need 30min cleaning before it can be sent on its merry way again.

So the first departure from Los Angeles to San Diego is going to be around 8, assuming it's originated in San Francisco at 5? I don't think so. They would have to run a very very empty train between San Francisco and Bakersfield to do that and then the train would be very very crowded south of Los Angeles. The people who have to be in San Diego before 9 would be really pissed too.. and driving there....

Anonymous said...

Siccing pr hacks on the Palo Alto-Menlo Park opposition to the hsr berm is a risky strategy.

1. It will entail a high-profile presentation. All sorts of grandiose promises will have to be made, promises that will never be lived up to.

2. "Environmentalists" who support Kopp and Diridon will be outed as the corporate shills they are. The real locals will be free to take a much more radical position, which is a much more effective starting point for bargaining.

3. Overall, with a highly polished, professional pr blitz the CHSRA will emerge as the new formidable partner-in-arms of the highway lobby. Big government on the order of the military-industrial complex. In the process it will become the chief target, the bete noire of the resurgent Howard Jarvis, anti-tax-and-spend movement.

Anonymous said...

. Overall, with a highly polished, professional pr blitz the CHSRA will emerge as the new formidable partner-in-arms of the highway lobby. Big government on the order of the military-industrial complex

huh? you're off the reservation now. If you remember, californians voted to build high speed rail. And pumping money into californias economy right now is what people want, be it hsr, defense spending, or any other kind of stimulus.

Anonymous said...

and californians don't have a problem with the so called highway lobby either. californians are forever clamoring for more highway capacity.

Andyduncan said...

@adirondacker: they might never need six platform
tracks. Especially with through tracks headed down to a maintenance yard. But there's six platform tracks on the ground right now, so all I was saying is that it looks like you could fit up to six above those too. Four would be even easier.

Andre Peretti said...

The SNCF/RFF shell game
That's why I took the example of Paris-Lyon for which capital costs were paid by the SNCF. With the creation of RFF as the track owner, profits and losses have become very difficult to analyse for non-professionals.

The creation of RFF was decided for two main reasons:
1) Permitting other companies (DB, RENFE, Veolia, etc) to use the tracks,
2) Giving the state the last word when choosing the routes for future lines.
This is now possible because RFF is state-run, contrary to the SNCF where the state only has a minority (7/18) representation. It probably spells the end of beet-field stations, since the state now has the power to say NO.
The downside is that this duality inflates costs and delays necessary investments. A lot of time is wasted determining who will pay for what. When in doubt, decision is delayed.
As RFF has no engineering of its own, it subcontracts track maintenance to the SNCF, thus offering it a possibility to recover most of the toll it pays to RFF.
In short, the SNCF does what it has always done, except that now a lot of time and money is wasted in bureaucracy and conflict management.
The French government should have known: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Anonymous said...

RFF is basically a financial entity designed to hold all of SNCF's enormous debt, which the French state is responsible for. SNCF can report an operating profit, while RFF absorbs the debt to be paid by the taxpayer. RFF is split off from SNCF to be responsible for track maintenance, yet it subcontracts the actual track maintenance back to SNCF. How odd! It's a shell game masquerade built by the French rail "professionals" intentionally trying to hide the steep losses.

The beet-field stations are what keep the HSR capital costs reasonable. The Paris-Lyon passenger route was heavily used even before TGV, and with TGV, it probably breaks even on that leg (one of two HSR routes in the world to do so). The Paris-Lyon TGV was designed well by specifically avoiding built-up areas with stations at the edge of cities. Note that this is a distinctly different design from the expensive CHSRA proposal that seeks out all the grade separations and tunnels it can find.

SNCF is a rail system, not just a HSR specialist. HSR is a form of premium rail infrastructure with high capital costs, but it must be considered as part of a larger system. It's like saying American Airlines' profitability is based on its New York-Chicago route, while disregarding losses made on the Chicago-Cleveland and Cleveland-New York routes and even all the feeder services.

Anonymous said...

@ jim

If the highway lobby had had its way the Embarcadero Freeway would have been rebuilt and the Central Freeway would still be there.

Along with the Panhandle Freeway and the Marina Freeway, etc., etc.

Alon Levy said...

The Paris-Lyon passenger route was heavily used even before TGV, and with TGV, it probably breaks even on that leg (one of two HSR routes in the world to do so).

Can you find me a link, from any reputable source, stating that only two HSR lines make a profit?

I can give you references, e.g. Anthony Perl's book New Departures and the GAO's "HSR is too expensive" document, that state that not only do all HSR lines in the world make an operating profit, but also the oldest three - the LGV Sud-Est and the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen - have fully paid off their construction debt. I can also give you references to corporate statements by JR-East, JR-Central, and JR-West, showing they are profitable after depreciation and interest, which suggests that the newer Shinkansen lines are on track to generate enough profits to pay off the debt. In fact, JR-Central is so profitable with its Shinkansen money that it can afford to sink $44 billion into a maglev line, which the Japanese government refused to fund.

Similarly, I know Andre has references stating that the LGV Sud-Est makes a 25% profit, rather than just breaks even. And far from being subsidized, the intercity division of SNCF, i.e. the service equivalent of Amtrak as opposed to Caltrain and Metrolink, is overall profitable, even after depreciation.

As far as I can tell, the only source for the "two HSR lines in the world break even" claim is an article by Wendell Cox, whose knowledge about public transportation wouldn't fill the back of a matchbox.

Alon Levy said...

On another note, SNCF didn't build beet-field stations because they're the best, but because they were a compromise given the circumstances. So the statement that,

The Paris-Lyon TGV was designed well by specifically avoiding built-up areas with stations at the edge of cities. Note that this is a distinctly different design from the expensive CHSRA proposal that seeks out all the grade separations and tunnels it can find.

is incorrect. Unlike California, France has no straight legacy rail rights of way, so the LGVs have to leverage highways, which don't go into central cities.

Tellingly, SNCF's proposals for building HSR in the US do emphasize city center stops. In California, SNCF has endorsed the preferred route. In the Midwest and Texas, where there is a mix of straight highway and rail rights of way, the SNCF proposals have mainly city center stops even in the middle of the lines, with only a few edge-of-urban-area stops.

Anonymous said...

Try this obvious link:

Such benefits, however, come with a huge price tag. By 2020, Spain plans to spend close to 100 billion euros on infrastructure and billions more on trains. That figure could give pause to places like California, a potential high-speed corridor whose area and population are about four-fifths the size of Spain’s.

“High-speed rail is good for society and it’s good for the environment, but it’s not a profitable business,” said Mr. BarrĂ³n of the International Union of Railways. He reckons that only two routes in the world — between Tokyo and Osaka, and between Paris and Lyon, France — have broken even.

It's not Wendell Cox; it's the HSR director of the International Union of Railways!

Do we honestly think California can spend less on its HSR system than Spain?

Alon Levy said...

Barron's estimate includes depreciation and interest. Basically, what he's saying is that most HSR lines haven't paid off their construction debt. This is true (except that the Sanyo Shinkansen did pay off its debt, according to Perl), in the sense that the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen had their debt wiped, and the other HSR lines are still in the process of paying off the debt. Those lines are all profitable after depreciation and taxes, but some are still burdened by interest, like the subprime-interest line in Taiwan, and others have profits that subsidize commuter rail expansion rather than debt service, as in France.

For total costs, see what Barron has calculated in his paper about HSR costs. The paper concludes that for a 500-km line running 250 km/h trains with 5 million passengers in the first year, total costs, including construction and operations, should be €13 billion, whereas with ticket prices of €50 revenues would be closer to €17.7 billion. In other words, the profit margin should be close to 1/3 before interest.

For reference: using the SNCF-projected ridership for California, the starter line would carry about 1.7 billion passengers in its lifetime, so at average ticket prices of $50, it would net $85 billion in revenue.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 12:12pm -

FYI, France split the infrastructure ownership from train operations not to hide the salami but because there's an EU directive (=law) requiring all national railways of all member states to do just that.

Beginning in 2010, both freight and passenger operators will then be permitted to negotiate for trackage rights in any member state and run trains across borders and within other states.

In other words, this is about market liberalization. The EU expects that cross-border rail freight volume will pick up substantially in the coming decades, especially intermodal freight. This will reduce the need to expand the motorway network, reduce dependence on imported oil, reduce CO2 emissions and also increase revenue for the rail infrastructure owners.